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02 Apr 2012

Worst Cornerback Charting Stats 2011

by Aaron Schatz

Last week, we ran through the best cornerbacks in FO's game charting stats for 2011. Today, we'll flip that script and look at the lowest-rated cornerbacks according to these metrics.

As usual, the typical caveats about the game charting apply: This is imperfect data based on the game charting project, which means it comes off limited television camera angles, and it is charted by a group of volunteers plus a handful of FO staff members. Sometimes a cornerback will benefit because he happens to be in coverage when a quarterback throws a bad pass, even if he wasn't covering close. Sometimes a cornerback will benefit from a better pass rush, because it's easier to cover when you don't need to cover for six seconds. As we always say, these stats should not be seen as absolute statements on player value. They're just part of the story.

These tables rank all cornerbacks with at least 40 charted passes. I removed all safeties except for Antrel Rolle, who is often playing as a cornerback when the Giants are in nickel (which they are an awful lot of the time). As we do with the cornerback charting stats in the book and on the player pages, I've removed passes marked as Hail Mary, Hit in Motion, Tipped at Line, or Thrown Away. I've also removed wide receiver screens, which aren't really a good way to measure cornerback coverage because a cornerback in man coverage is going to (or at least, is supposed to) immediately get blocked out of the play by another wide receiver. Right now I'm only looking at primary defenders, so this is not adjusted to account for double coverage, or plays where the charter marks a hole in zone but lists an appropriate zone defender in the second DEFENDER column. There are no opponent adjustments yet. However, pass interference is included. No other defensive penalties are included. With defensive pass interference, the defender flagged is almost always the player who was in coverage on the intended receiver; with illegal contact or defensive holding, the flag often comes far away from where an actual pass may be thrown.

We'll start with the cornerbacks who allowed the most yards per pass according to our game charting.

Bottom 10 Cornerbacks in Yards/Pass, 2011
Player Team Charted
Yd/Pass Rk Success
Rk Avg. Pass
Josh Gordy STL 40 12.6 83 40% 78 13.7 5.5 75
Leodis McKelvin BUF 41 11.3 82 56% 28 19.3 3.6 47
Quentin Jammer SD 57 11.2 81 40% 77 13.6 3.8 49
Terence Newman DAL 64 10.7 80 42% 74 13.2 5.6 77
Captain Munnerlyn CAR 54 10.7 79 43% 73 11.7 6.4 82
Devin McCourty NE 94 10.6 78 48% 58 13.3 3.9 52
E.J. Biggers TB 83 10.5 77 39% 80 13.2 5.9 79
Cedric Griffin MIN 59 10.2 76 39% 79 11.8 4.6 67
Justin King STL 70 10.1 75 44% 70 13.6 4.5 64
Kareem Jackson HOU 56 10.1 74 46% 63 16.4 2.1 4

Let's start by cutting Josh Gordy and Justin King a little bit of slack. They weren't supposed to be the starting cornerbacks in St. Louis and were seriously, massively stretched past their limits. Gordy is an undrafted player in his second season, and if struggles for the rest of his career, he can always console himself with the Super Bowl ring he won as a rookie depth corner for the 2010 Packers. Justin King is in his fourth season but didn't start at all in 2010 and was supposed to be the nickelback in 2011 until Bradley Fletcher and Ron Bartell both went down.

Devin McCourty had a huge sophomore slump for the Patriots; he was particularly victimized all year by tall receivers like Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson. On one hand, this looks like more evidence of the inconsistency of cornerback charting stats; on the other hand, it's hard to argue that these stats weren't doing a good job of measuring McCourty's actual on-field performance in both 2010 and 2011. He actually wasn't ranked that high in 2010 as a rookie (41st in Success Rate, 38th in Adjusted Yards per Pass) and his 2011 performance pretty much was as poor as those numbers show.

E.J. Biggers is another player who had very different charting stats in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, he was 13th in Success Rate and seventh in Adjusted Yards per Pass. (Adjusted Yards per Pass is the metric we use in the book, after we've had a chance to adjust these numbers for which receivers each cornerback was covering on each pass.) You might think that's Biggers getting exposed by more time on the field, but we have him down with 68 targets in 2010, so he wasn't used that much more than in 2010. Also, in both years I believe he generally played on the outside because Ronde Barber moves to the slot when the Bucs go nickel.

Leodis McKelvin has interesting numbers, with a terrible yards per pass number but a fine Success Rate. You'll get that kind of thing with a lower sample size. (He's only one pass above our minimum to be ranked.) We've got McKelvin giving up five different passes of 40+ yards: 58 and 40 to A.J. Green, 50 and 42 to Denarius Moore, and 42 to Santonio Holmes on a DPI. Those weren't big YAC passes -- each one was at least 34 yards through the air. So when McKelvin did get beat in 2011, he got beat badly. On the other hand, our charters gave McKelvin a pass defensed on eight of the 40 passes where he was listed as the main defender in coverage, which is a pretty good ratio.

Quentin Jammer has never really lived up to his rep, if our charting stats are to believed. Terence Newman is toast.

Next, we'll look at the worst cornerbacks in Success Rate. Success Rate, to remind everyone, is the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.

Bottom 10 Cornerbacks in Success Rate, 2011
Player Team Charted
Yd/Pass Rk Success
Rk Avg. Pass
Asher Allen MIN 49 9.5 69 35% 83 10.7 4.0 55
Tracy Porter NO 63 7.7 47 37% 82 10.1 3.4 39
Jacob Lacey IND 60 7.5 39 38% 81 10.2 2.6 12
E.J. Biggers TB 83 10.5 77 39% 80 13.2 5.9 79
Cedric Griffin MIN 59 10.2 76 39% 79 11.8 4.6 67
Josh Gordy STL 40 12.6 83 40% 78 13.7 5.5 75
Quentin Jammer SD 57 11.2 81 40% 77 13.6 3.8 49
DeAngelo Hall WAS 86 9.7 72 41% 76 11.5 5.1 72
Aaron Ross NYG 77 9.6 70 42% 75 12.3 3.4 45
Terence Newman DAL 64 10.7 80 42% 74 13.2 5.6 77

Oh, hey, there's DeAngelo Hall. We knew he would show up somewhere around here. The Minnesota cornerbacks really were god awful in 2011, except for Antoine Winfield when he was healthy.

Tracy Porter from New Orleans had similar numbers in 2010, with a better rank in yards per pass than in Success Rate. In 2011, we have Porter down giving up a completion or DPI for 8-20 yards on 30 of his 63 charted targets -- but he gave up only one pass that gained more than 20 yards, a 47-yarder to Nate Burleson. Part of the reason for this is the way he was used by New Orleans, as we only have him down in coverage on seven passes that went 20 or more yards through the air. Indianapolis cornerbacks like Jacob Lacey, who are used in a similar fashion, also end up with this kind of low Success Rate/low yards per pass combination.

On the other hand, compare Porter to Jabari Greer. We have Greer down with 94 targets, about 50 percent more than Porter. Yet Greer only gave up 23 different passes that gained 8-20 yards either by completion or DPI. Of course, Greer also allowed eight passes that gained over 20 yards. But Greer ends up with fewer yards per pass allowed (6.9) with a far better Success Rate (61 percent).

Finally, let's look at Yards After Catch:

Bottom 10 Cornerbacks in YAC Allowed, 2011
Player Team Charted
Yd/Pass Rk Success
Rk Avg. Pass
Champ Bailey DEN 61 8.8 62 51% 52 10.7 7.2 83
Captain Munnerlyn CAR 54 10.7 79 43% 73 11.7 6.4 82
Kyle Wilson NYJ 55 8.9 64 53% 42 10.1 6.1 81
Joe Haden CLE 81 8.5 56 52% 48 13.3 5.9 80
E.J. Biggers TB 83 10.5 77 39% 80 13.2 5.9 79
Patrick Robinson NO 59 6.4 17 51% 51 9.7 5.7 78
Terence Newman DAL 64 10.7 80 42% 74 13.2 5.6 77
Carlos Rogers SF 99 6.5 19 63% 9 12.7 5.5 76
Josh Gordy STL 40 12.6 83 40% 78 13.7 5.5 75
Darius Butler CAR 45 8.8 63 47% 61 12.8 5.5 74

Now, let's be clear: These YAC allowed numbers generally don't say much about the actual quality of a cornerback. There's generally very little correlation between a cornerback's rank in Success Rate and his rank in YAC allowed. Still, it is very strange to see Champ Bailey giving up the most average YAC of any starting cornerback in 2011 -- and by a wide margin. Isn't he known as an excellent tackler for a cornerback? Yes, and there isn't much evidence that this is an issue of tackling. We only recorded Bailey with two broken tackles on plays where he was in coverage. He just seemed to have a few more plays than usual where guys got behind him on short- and mid-range routes. We have Bailey down in coverage on five different passes that gained 18 or more YAC. The big one there is a short cross to Percy Harvin in Week 13 that went for a 48-yard touchdown with 46 YAC, thanks in part to a broken tackle by third-string safety Kyle McCarthy. We've also got a 56-yard touchdown to Calvin Johnson (25 YAC), 34- and 31-yard passes to Jacoby Ford (23 and 21 YAC), and a 30-yard pass to Plaxico Burress (18 YAC).

Full charting numbers for cornerbacks, including numbers adjusted for opponent, will run in Football Outsiders Almanac 2012.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Apr 2012

51 comments, Last at 09 Apr 2012, 11:00am by Tim Wilson


by are-tee :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:09pm

I wonder if Kyle Wilson was charged with the 89 or so YAC that Victor Cruz had on his 99-yard TD reception in week 16; that would tend to skew his stats pretty badly. It was actually Antonio Cromartie who missed the tackle (as well as Eric Smith further down the field). Wilson tried to jump the route and missed, perhaps thinking that Cromartie was behind him and would make the tackle.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:27pm

Yes, good catch. I should have mentioned that above. That play will end up skewing Wilson's numbers. And yes, we do have both Cromartie and Smith down with blown tackles on the play.

by tuluse :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:30pm

Maybe there should be an adjusted yac allowed like the adjusted line yards.

by Theo :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 8:07pm

Max 20?
How many times is someone catched from behind after 20 yards. Or 10.

by Guest789 :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 2:08pm

I hate to be "that guy", but caught.
/Grammar Nazi


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:35am

To be fair, I don't think English is Theo's first language.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 1:59pm

His English is a bloody sight better than my Dutch, and probably better than my French (the foreign language I actually do speak to a decent standard) as well.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:10pm

To really appreciate how bad Asher Allen and Cedric Griffin were, remember that the Vikings actually have a pretty good pass rush.

Ugh, another reason the Vikings/Saints Conference Championship will forever make me nauseous. Cedric Griffin was a good player until his knees started to get blown out, and that started on a kickoff in overtime of a game that should have been over in regulation, with the Vikings winning by at least 10 points.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:53pm

It's not hard to feel bad about Cedric Griffin, having to come back from injuries to both knees. He just did not look ready to compete in 2011. It's looking like this could be then end for both Griffin and Antoine Winfield, which could mean a very tough 2012 season for the Vikings defense.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:35am

Great, I'm not looking forward to a season of Cedric Griffin and DeAngelo Hall for the Redskins.

by Mr. X (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:22pm

This Packer fan wants to know how no Packer CBs made this list.

by Joseph :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:38pm

Maybe because they were all mediocre?
IDK, but some teams have 1 CB who is really overmatched, and is constantly picked on. Those seem to be the type of CB's who show up here. Not good CB's who get burned once in a while, like the 2011 versions of Greer & Revis.

by Anony (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:49pm

But neither were any Lions or Bears, so kind of a wash in the NFCN bragging stakes!

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:49pm

Unloading Jonathan Wade and relegating Alphonso Smith to backup duties (helped along by his breaking a leg in the offseason) helped keep the Lions off this list.

by Arkaein :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 3:31pm

The deficiencies in GB's pass D were fairly systemic problems.

The pass rush dropped off, hurting the pass D overall but not singling out any one player in the secondary. The safeties were inconsistent and contributed to many of the long passes. Each of the top 3 CBs regressed from 2010 levels, but it's not like any one was repeatedly picked on (which would have been dangerous for a QB to do, considering how many INTs the D had, spread among several players).

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:44pm

It looks like McKelvin could be a huge beneficiary of the arrival of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, as well as the return to health of Kyle Williams. His stats look pretty good with the notable exception of those very deep completions and those are the throws that will be harder to execute with two defensive ends harassing the quarterback.

by Timmah! (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:56pm

Exactly what I was thinking - McKelvin is pretty good when the play is in front of him, but has zero ball skills when he has to turn around. Notably, if you watch the 5 plays where he get beat deep, he had coverage and position that ranged from 'meh' to 'in the hip pocket', but was unable to get his hands anywhere near the football.

With more pressure coming from the D line, opposing teams will be looking to throw short more often and the QB will have less time to set up perfect lobs to a guy who is pretty well covered.

by Nathan :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 2:04pm

McKelvin is pretty good when the play is in front of him, but has zero ball skills when he has to turn around. Notably, if you watch the 5 plays where he get beat deep, he had coverage and position that ranged from 'meh' to 'in the hip pocket', but was unable to get his hands anywhere near the football.

These two sentences gave me Darius Butler flashbacks.

by MooseisLoose (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 6:48pm

Did Drayton Florence not have enough targets to make the list, or was he simply a lot better in the Bills games I didn't watch. That guy was awful every time I saw him play.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:50pm

Slight nitpick: I think Justin King was actually pencilled in orignally as the Rams 4th or 5th corner - I'm fairly sure Jerome Murphy was supposed to be the nickel back. He had looked fairly promising as a rookie in limited action.

I'm a bit surprised Gordy charts that badly. I guess its because my expectations for him were so low, and he had a couple of picks so it seemed like he was doing a decent enough job. He looked ok to my untrained eyes, and he didn't appear to be doing significantly worse than anyone else (which I guess is just about true, although not a compliment!).

by Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 5:07pm

I'd love to see Terence Newman's season broken down. It seemed like he was fine the first half of the season, and then completely fell apart in the second half.

by Dan :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 9:00pm

The numbers match your impression. Using Pro Football Focus's numbers, Newman allowed 7.1 yards per pass during the first half of his games (weeks 3-10) and 12.0 yards per pass during the second half (weeks 11-17). There was an increase in both completion percentage (from 57% to 66%) and yards per completion (from 12.4 to 18.1), including YAC per completion (5.1 to 7.5). He was also targeted more often, rising from 12% to 19% of the plays that he was in coverage.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:12pm

That could be injuries. Of course, old guys tend to get injured as the season marches on. Worse, it could be that teams on the 2nd half of the schedule noticed on film that he was cooked, and decided to finish him off.

The calender is a bastard.

by Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:56pm

Newman has really struggled to stay healthy since 2007, so I wouldn't be surprised if he played with an undisclosed injury.

by Fan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 11:53pm

Thanks Dan.

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:37am

I've never understood how Terence Newman has been an NFL starter for so long, my eyes tell me he's always been lousy. As a Redskins fan, I'm going to miss seeing him play in Dallas.

by chemical burn :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 3:23pm

Yes, his appearance in the 2009 season Pro Bowl alongside Mike freakin' Jenkins has to be the finest example of the bullshit "Cowboys Player bump" in the Pro Bowl selection process. He was always and forever mediocre...

by Tim Wilson :: Mon, 04/09/2012 - 11:00am

Wildly incorrect. If you take overall YPA and Success Rate CB metrics for 2006-2008, a good three year sample, Terence Newman was in the top 5 in the league over that stretch. He was one of the NFL's best CBs over that stretch, at a position where year-to-year consistency is rare.

However, as mentioned above, he has been a fragile player over the years, often playing with injuries that he couldn't seem to kick (in particular, his groin seemed to be made of paper mache), and that and aging led to a SEVERE drop-off over the past 3 years.

But it's just flat out wrong to say he was never, at any point in his career, a very good corner.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 6:01pm

"Quentin Jammer has never really lived up to his rep"

He's got such an awesome name for a cornerback, though.

by akn :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 7:21pm

Running back, linemen, linebacker--his name was just generally destined for all non-QB positions, really.

by Shattenjager :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 8:32pm

He does. I would say better than Mike Quick but not as good as Will Shields.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 7:56am

Chuck Long?

by Shattenjager :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 1:04pm

Does that count? His name was actually Charles.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 2:44am

And where has that gotten Captain Munnerlyn?

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 8:00am

Or Zoltan Mesko?

by RickD :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 11:30am

Don't mess with him.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 8:35am

Champ Bailey?

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:38am

Quentin Jammer should have been friends with Eddie Vedder

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 04/02/2012 - 8:47pm

The first half of the Broncos Chiefs game in week 17 made me very nervous about Champ Bailey going forward. Kyle Orton and Bowe were absolutely eating his lunch before Bowe got hurt.

by jmm1784 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 3:06pm

Interesting for all the hype that Joe Haden got last season as the "next Darelle Revis," the second-best CB in the league, etc., he made neither the top ten in Success Rate nor Yards per Pass Allowed. In fact, seeing him in the bottom half in both categories is intriguing. What gives? Any idea why someone in generally-ignored Cleveland would get undue hype? And why would his numbers be so much worse (to the point that he doesn't even appear to be an average CB) than his reputation last season?

by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:40am

Advanced CB stats tend to be volatile from season to season. These numbers don't imply that he won't bounce back and have a great year in 2012. They also don't imply that he won't stink in 2012.

by Eddo :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:06am

There was hype about Joe Haden?

by Rocco :: Tue, 04/03/2012 - 3:23pm

Kareem Jackson was near the bottom in yards/catch and success rate, but 4th in YAC. Is this a case where a guy basically plays off receivers and lets them catch everything in front of him and makes the tackle 2 yards past the 1st down marker?

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 5:11am

That's a big part of it, yeah. Can't cover, can tackle. Might be a better fit at free safety, but I suspect he'd get lost in space.

by zambini (not verified) :: Wed, 04/04/2012 - 10:52am

stats, schmats,
the worst CB in the NFL is Andre goodman! )broncos)
opposing QBs just walk to the line of scrimmage, look for goodman, and throw in his direction!

by BaronFoobarstein :: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 1:35am

How close was Brandon Browner to these lists? Surprised not to see him absent.

by Tino (not verified) :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:18am

Eh? I thought he was pretty good. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate as a "rookie", so other coaches thought he was doing a good job too (and not just electing him on rep). The fact that he plays such aggressive bump-and-run coverage makes him vulnerable to big plays, but overall I thought he won his match up much more often than he lost. Definitely an improvement over the last few lackluster years of a tentative Marcus Trufant and undersized Kelly Jennings.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:35am

"Bump and run coverage" generally refers to playing up at the line of scrimmage, jamming receivers as they begin their routes, and then sticking with them. I noticed him playing at line a lot, but he seemed to neglect the "bump" portion a lot, yielding something more like "stand next to then chase coverage" The fact that he made the Pro Bowl is what led me to the ask the question since I was flabbergasted by his selection and wanted to see just where he fell in these stats. I live in Seattle so saw a number of their games, but I admit I didn't watch all of them, and it's possible I just happened to see him at his worst.

by tuluse :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:32am

Didn't Doug write a cover 2 about him and was generally impressed?

by Shattenjager :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 11:12am
by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 04/06/2012 - 2:55pm

My $0.02 on Bowner, he gives and he takes. He's a great matchup for tall receivers and tight ends in man coverage and also plays well in zones where his height extends his are of effectiveness. However, he struggles against small, quick receivers in man coverage, which is what you would expect from somebody with his body type. As the NFL moves towards more TE/WR hybrids I think that more players like him will find roles at the pro level, especially where teams are willing to play a predominantly zone defense.